The New Year brings with it ambitious goals and good intentions, but it can be hard to maintain that seemingly endless amount of excitement and motivation for getting healthy after those first few months of the year. When people fail to see immediate results, they quickly abandon their weight loss goals. However, there are some key strategies that can help you sustain that gung-ho attitude well beyond February.
1. Set Smaller Goals That Build Upon Each Other
Set realistic, achievable mini-goals rather than one giant goal. Instead of resolving to lose fifty pounds in three months, aim to lose five to ten pounds in two months. One reason people lose motivation and ultimately give up on their New Year's resolutions to eat healthier and lose weight is that they set goals that are not feasible, setting themselves up for failure. When the weight doesn't come off as quickly or as easily as people had expected, they get discouraged and revert back to old habits. Even setting daily goals can be helpful, such as aiming to jog for 30 minutes five days a week. Setting smaller goals and reevaluating and adjusting those goals along the way will help empower you to keep going.
2. Reward Yourself
When you achieve a goal, treat yourself to a non-food-related reward. Rewards that won't pack back on those pounds that you worked so hard to lose might include a pedicure, a massage, a new pair of jeans, a new book, or a movie date with someone special.
3. Mix up Your Routine
This strategy applies to both your exercise regimen and your eating plan. Eating the same foods over and over again, no matter how healthy they are, can backfire if they leave you bored. Make sure you aren't too restrictive or rigid with your food choices as this can lead to binging. Aim to try one new recipe or food each week. And we all know exercising is vital to losing weight and maintaining weight loss, but if you don't challenge yourself physically, you may feel like giving up once your excitement for your current regimen wears off. Find new and thrilling ways to burn calories. If you get tired of the same monotonous treadmill or elliptical routine, try a kick-boxing or dance class. Enlisting the help of friends who are on a similar path to better health can help you stay motivated. Try going hiking with friends on the weekends or commit to lunch-hour walks with coworkers.
4. Track Your Progress
The people who are most successful at losing weight and keeping it off tend to have one thing in common: they keep food and exercise journals. It's more difficult to abandon your new healthy habits once it's in print. Logging your eating habits and exercise regimen online with FitDay can also be very eye opening, which may help you reveal mistakes you didn't even realize you were making.
In addition to following these tips, remember to not beat yourself up for small mistakes. Lapses are inevitable along the way, but learning from your mistakes and moving forward helps prevent one lapse from turning into two, three, or four lapses.
Kari Hartel, RD, LD is a Registered Dietitian and freelance writer based out of St. Louis, MO. Kari is passionate about nutrition education and the prevention of chronic disease through a healthy diet and active lifestyle. Kari holds a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Southeast Missouri State University and is committed to helping people lead healthy lives. She completed a yearlong dietetic internship at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, IL, where she worked with a multitude of clients and patients with complicated diagnoses. She planned, marketed, and implemented nutrition education programs and cooking demonstrations for the general public as well as for special populations, including patients with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, obesity, and school-aged children. Contact Kari at KariHartelRD@gmail.com.